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Pascack Valley students participate in walkout

Pascack Valley student organizers lead their fellow students in a lap around the track in memory of the victims of the Parkland High School shooting.

On Wednesday, students at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, N.J. joined other American high school students in a national school walkout in memory of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.  The event at Pascack Valley was organized by members of the Executive Council and the Human Rights League with support from school administration and local law enforcement.

At approximately 10 a.m., Pascack Valley students, led by members of the Executive Council, exited the building and walked quietly towards the football field. Once the students were assembled on the field, the student organizers addressed the student body from the bleachers.  Participating students took a silent lap around the track to honor the victims prior to reassembling for more speeches.

Students were not required to participate in the walkout, but a majority of the student body did partake.

“That was the most amazing thing I’ve seen,” PV Human Rights League co-President Chandni Chah said.  “To see hundreds of students marching together in silence to honor these people and to spark a discussion was absolutely amazing.  It felt powerful.”

Organizers at Pascack Valley wanted to make the event as apolitical as possible, and sought to use the event to create unity and to create a dialogue.  Walkouts at other schools across the country were more overtly political.

“We tried to keep it without any political ties,” PV Human Rights League co-President Emily Le said.  “We tried not mention anything about gun control or voting for specific candidates, but even then, people who did find that it was still supporting political issues, they decided not to, which we totally understand.”

Unlike at other high schools in N.J. and across the country, student participants were not reprimanded for their actions.  School faculty and members of the Hillsdale Police Department were on hand, both inside and outside of the school, to ensure that the event was secure.

The event was scheduled to last 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland tragedy, but ran a bit long. Most students did not return to their classes until approximately 10:30 a.m.

Pascack Valley Principal Tom DeMaio called the event “truly inspiring” on Twitter, and commended the students for handling “themselves with such great dignity and class.”

The Pascack Valley Human Rights League will continue to encourage conversation and honor the victims when they lead the Pascack Valley delegation to the March for Our Lives walk in New York City on Mar. 24.

Josh DeLuca
Josh DeLuca
Josh DeLuca

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